The Dallas Cowboys continue to be praised for their selection of linebacker Micah Parsons with the No. 12 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. NFL.com’s draft analyst Lance Zierlein labeled Parsons as one of his favorite draft selections. Zierlein also gave Parsons an interesting comparison calling him the Saquon Barkley of linebackers.
“The Cowboys did a great job finessing the first round, moving down two spots and acquiring a third-round pick (Chauncey Golston, No. 84) while still landing the premier alpha defender in this draft,” Zierlein explained. “If you ever wondered what it’d be like to watch Saquon Barkley play linebacker, well, that’s Parsons in a nut shell thanks to his lower-body build and outrageous speed from sideline to sideline. He’s a terrific open-field tackler and a plus pass rusher who helps to diversify the Cowboys’ linebacking corps. Parsons opted out of the 2020 season, which may result in a little bit of rust this year, but he should be the Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite.”
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Parsons Ran a Faster 40-Time Than Barkley
Parsons’ athletic measurables are off the charts running a 4.36-second 40-yard dash time and notching a 34″ vertical jump, per The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. The 6’3″, 246-pound linebacker has a nearly 79″ wingspan and also had a 10’6″ broad jump.
Zierlein’s comparison has some truth to it as Parsons ran faster than Barkley’s 4.4-second 40 time. To be fair, Parsons was hand-timed compared to Barkley who was part of the official NFL Combine in 2018. Barkley’s whopping 41″ vertical is quite a bit better than Parsons.
Parsons Has Been Labeled as a Potential ‘Cornerstone Defender’
Parsons opted out of the 2020 season but had 109 tackles, five sacks and four forced fumbles in 13 games for Penn State in 2019. Brugler provided an overview of Parsons’ scouting report heading into the NFL, calling the linebacker a potential “cornerstone defender.”
“Parsons is an excellent ball hunter because of his vision and agility near the line of scrimmage, also displaying exceptional sideline range,” Brugler detailed. “He needs to improve his maturity (on and off the field), spacing and anticipation in coverage, but the athleticism and budding awareness are there. Overall, Parsons is an impressive size/speed/strength athlete with the reaction to movement and combative mentality to develop into a cornerstone defender and three-down linebacker for an NFL team. He projects as one of the best talents in the draft.”
The Cowboys revamped their linebacker group over the offseason under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Dallas added Keanu Neal in free agency then drafted Parsons along with Jabril Cox.
The Cowboys also lost Sean Lee to retirement and declined to pick up Leighton Vander Esch’s fifth-year option, putting pressure on him heading into 2021. During his introductory press conference, Parsons explained he has one mission when he hits the field.
“I’m always trying to get to the ball, I’m like a ballhawk, I would say – see ball, get ball. ‘Water Boy’ type,” Parsons explained, per DallasCowboys.com.